Federal Government Shutdown Holds Hungry People Hostage


Emily Cleath
(412) 431-8960 x112

Statement attributed to Ken Regal, executive director, Just Harvest: A Center for Action Against Hunger

PITTSBURGH, PA, January 9, 2019 — Just Harvest: A Center for Action Against Hunger calls on the President and Congress to immediately put the Federal Government back into full operation. Despite recent Trump administration assurances, we remain concerned that an ongoing federal government shutdown will prevent eligible people from receiving their food stamps, WIC, school meals, and tax refunds.

The shutdown debate is no longer about overflowing trash cans at the Lincoln Memorial. Disrupting needed food and income to tens of millions of vulnerable adults and children in poverty is a fundamental moral outrage that should offend every American, no matter their position on “the wall.”

Unfortunately, there is nothing that Just Harvest or anyone can do to make up that huge gap. If the federal government fails to fulfill its upcoming obligations in the food stamp program alone, our clients and their families will be among the 149,000 Allegheny County residents who would suffer the consequences, as will the local workers and businesses that rely on those dollars, from truck drivers to checkout clerks to supermarket owners. Ad hoc charity will not be able to compensate for this huge blow to the nation’s safety net. The only viable response is political; everyone affected by this, or who cares about the fundamental injustice of it, must join a mass movement to demand action.

Our elected officials – Republicans and Democrats, in the White House and on Capitol Hill – must negotiate their differences on immigration while enabling the rest of government to function. All parties must clean up this mess, but we take President Trump at his word when he said publicly that he “would be proud to shut down the government . . . to wear the mantle of the shutdown.” The willingness of the President to hold tens of millions of people’s food budgets hostage to his failed promise that Mexico would pay for his wall is the worst failure of leadership in this nation since Herbert Hoover’s inept and inhumane response to the Great Depression.

President Trump’s unilateral decision to shut down the government was based on his own broken promises, advanced and justified by an ever-expanding pack of lies, and now threatens to create untold human suffering for hungry people across America. That is simply evil.


JUST HARVEST addresses hunger’s root causes – economic justice – by improving public policy, boosting food access, and building community power in Allegheny County.

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